This is a blog about me and the things that make me laugh, smile, hurt or cry!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Football Fanaticism vs Patriotism

Recently, I got into an online discussion with a friend about football. He and I support opposing teams in the English Premier League. Our conversation turned to the unhappy fact that many supposed football fans are unable to have a rational conversation about the sport or their team with other supporters. This was prompted by my posting a comment about our Manager, who accused the opponents in the upcoming match of being obsessed with the Champion's league. I assured my friend that I consider myself to be one of the few enlightened football supporters.

For those in doubt about where my football 'allegiance' lies

I love my team, but I see no need to insult other people because they support another team. Do people have nothing else to do with their lives than engage in fake and extremely contrived rivalry that is just plain ridiculous.

If more people in Zambia applied as much passion, loyalty, dedication, time, effort, energy and finances to the state and welfare of our nation, as they do to football, Zambia would be a great country indeed. Fathers would spend more time with their children and many a bar would go out of business (no major loss in my book -- perhaps HIV and gender based violence would conversely reduce also). If our political and corporate leaders were half as interested in development as they are in football, we would be a middle income country right now and not by 2030. Our national football team rarely struggles to raise funds from the national budget or from big business sponsors. At the same time, if we invested a fraction of the time and money that we do in foreign football into the local game, our national team would a have a steady supply of quality players. Then, perhaps I would consider the Chipolopolo Boys as deserving of my devoted attention. 

It distresses me that people get so emotional about football, but not many of the injustices we see around us everyday. If we were as patriotic as we are blind supporters of football clubs, to the point of insulting or beating up other fans after the loss of our team, our country would be in a much better place. And patriotism is not the same as supporting the national team. We are so forgiving of football teams, players, managers etc, but are so quick to jump ship and abandon our country (figuratively or physically) when things get rough. We take time to plan our schedules and finances around the sport, but will not go out of our way to support local businesses and products. A mediocre and under-performing team still gets people crammed into a bar to watch another defeat.

Don't get me wrong, I am a loyal (but informed and rational) football and Manchester United fan. I went to the world cup in South Africa, for the love of the game. But honestly, some football supporters need to get a life. 

It is for this reason, that I rarely have football conversations with the unenlightened and ignorant majority of football supporters.